Ray Barretto Y Su OrquestaCelia-Ray-Adalberto - Tremendo Trio!
Even though it was recorded in 1983, years after the New York salsa explosion of the '70s had reached its artistic zenith, the album that you hold in your hands represents the very essence of the classic Fania sound. It is also the only record starring three of the label's biggest stars at the peak of their powers: conguero and bandleader Ray Barretto, Puerto Rican sonero Adalberto Santiago, and the Queen of Salsa herself, Cuba's Celia Cruz. ...MORE >
Even though it was recorded in 1983, years after the New York salsa explosion of the '70s had reached its artistic zenith, the album that you hold in your hands represents the very essence of the classic Fania sound. It is also the only record starring three of the label's biggest stars at the peak of their powers: conguero and bandleader Ray Barretto, Puerto Rican sonero Adalberto Santiago, and the Queen of Salsa herself, Cuba's Celia Cruz.
In strict commercial terms, "Tremendo Trío" was far from a huge success, even though it had a potential hit single in the irresistible opener Nadie Se Salva De La Rumba. It is, however, treasured by salsa connoisseurs who remember the majestic swing of its arrangements and the verve with which both Cruz and Santiago tackle the material at hand. There is even a rare DVD that circulates among hardcore collectors, a live session with Ray, Adalberto and Celia performing selections from this album on Puerto Rico's television show Noche de Gala.
The idea for this record came from both the Fania label and Ray, explains Adalberto Santiago from his home in Puerto Rico. By the time he recorded "Tremendo Trío," Santiago had revealed himself as one of the movement's prime soneros through seminal Barretto sessions such as The Message and Que Viva La Música. Santiago defected the Barretto orchestra in order to form Típica 73, but he eventually returned to record with the conguero.
I was extremely happy to be invited for this one, he continues. Working with Doña Celia and Ray-- my musical father-- was just a tremendous experience.
According to Santiago, "Tremendo Trío" was recorded very quickly. And unlike contemporary duets albums that finds artists laying down their vocals separately, he actually had the privilege of taping the songs together with Celia.
She was like a computer, he says. She would just start singing and nail it down on the first take. I'm fortunate enough to have the same sort of musical formula, so the session was not arduous at all.
Opening the album with Nadie Se Salva De La Rumba (a modernized version of a Cuban gem by Los Naranjos) was an inspired choice. Other highlights include the Rubén Blades composition Caminando, as well as the swinging Así Empezó El Son Montuno, which includes La Reina belting out hilarious lyrics such as "en casa bailaban el son montuno/y el que mas gozaba era tío Bruno" (at home, they danced the son montuno/the one who enjoyed it the most was Uncle Bruno.)
Barretto's orchestra included the jazzy piano of a young Oscar Hernández, as well as the seamless timbales of Ralph Irizarry. A year later, both instrumentalists would join Blades as part of his Seis del Solar ensemble, beginning the Panamanian singer's post-Fania career on the Elektra label.
There is joy and effortless danceability throughout "Tremendo Trío." But there is also a sweet melancholy feeling triggered by the fact that both Barretto and Cruz are gone-- and that a record like this one could probably not see the light of day in the new millennium.
There are so many moments that we enjoyed together as members of the Fania label, recalls Santiago with a hint of sadness in his voice. Here where I live in Puerto Rico, I come across people every day who share their memories with me. "I saw you in concert in New York, so many years ago. Those were such wonderful moments." When they tell me these stories, I always smile and say: "Yes. What you said is true. Those were wonderful moments indeed."
Oscar Hernandez – Piano
Ralph Irizarry – Timbales
Carlos Soto – Bongos
Ray Martínez – Bass
Joe De Jesus – Trombone
Tim Quimette – Trumpet
Ken Fradley – Trumpet
Charlie Hernandez – Trumpet
Ray González – Trumpet
Tony Barrero – Trumpet
Lead Vocals – Celia Cruz, Adalberto Santiago
Chorus – Adalberto Santiago, Felo Barrio
Producer and Director – Ray Barretto
Arrangements – Oscar Hernandez, Luis Cruz
Original Album Design – Rickey R. Gaskins